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White House to shelve Europe missile defence plan

The US is to abandon plans proposed by the Bush administration for a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic, Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer told reporters on Thursday. The decision will please Russia, who opposed the plan.

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AFP - US President Barack Obama said in a phone call to Prague that the US government has given up its plan to build a missile shield in Europe, Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer told reporters on Thursday.

"US President Barack Obama called me shortly after midnight to tell me his government was giving up its intention to build a radar base on Czech soil," Fischer said.

"The Czech Republic has acknowledged this decision," he said.

Fischer added that Poland, expected to host missile interceptors under the plans initiated under the previous US presidency of Groge W. Bush, had been "informed in the same way."

He said a detailed explanation of the reasons would be available after talks with a US delegation led by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy in Prague later on Thursday.

"We knew the United States was reviewing its plan to build the radar... within a reassessment of specific threats, and that one option might be to give up the plan to build the radar," said Fischer.

"The threats now rest in short- and medium-range missiles, not long-range ones. The American side decided this was the most serious threat and this is their reaction," he added.

Fischer also said Obama had assured him that "strategic cooperation continues, that the US still sees the Czech Republic as one of its closest allies."

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